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Cigar Review: MoyaRuiz The Rake Fix

8 Feb 2016

The Rake

From its rough, rugged Connecticut Broadleaf maduro wrapper to the intense finish, The Rake would be right at home at the poker table in the Long Branch Saloon.

FixThe Rake is the second regular production line from MoyaRuiz, a small firm that has already made an impression in the cigar world with a couple of offbeat limited editions and its initial La Jugada line.

Like La Jugada, The Rake is a powerful smoke. With filler comprising four ligero leaves—two from Jalapa and two from Estelí—the surprise would be if it weren’t. (Details on the binder were not released.)

The Fix starts with spice and pepper and a bit of a back-of-the-throat scratch. For the first third, in fact, it seemed that might be its single distinguishing characteristic. Fortunately, though, that began to lessen as the second third began, opening up to some dark flavors like burned coffee, roasted nuts, and charred wood.

As I progressed down the box-pressed frame (5.6 x 46), there was lots of smoke, a slightly loose draw, and a not-so-great burn. The thick wrapper, at times, seemed almost fireproof.

The cigars are rolled at Erik Espinosa’s La Zona factory in Estelí, Nicaragua. The Rake comes in boxes of 20, with three sizes in addition to the Fix: Cut (5 x 52), Take (6 x 52), and Vig (6 x 60). The boxes and bands, like the names themselves, all reflect a connection to poker.

In announcing the line, Danny Moya said in a release that the band’s design was “inspired by the speakeasy peep hole found in many doors at underground gambling rooms, and the cigar box has two slots on the top of the box to resemble a rake box.”

I bought a five-pack ($47.50) back in the summer and smoked a couple then and a couple recently. Six months or so in the humidor seems to have made a little difference, especially in reducing sharpness.

With such a distinctive profile, I wouldn’t regularly smoke The Rake. But I would definitely pick one up on occasion for something different. I recommend it, especially in this size, and give it four stogies out of five.

[To read more cigar reviews, please click here.]

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys / MoyaRuiz

Quick Smoke: Regius Exclusivo U.S.A. Toro Extra

6 Feb 2016

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief take on a single cigar.

Toro Extra

Regius has gained lots of online buzz since entering the U.S. market from Great Britain. The Exclusivo, introduced in 2014, is billed as a “fusion of the old and new schools of cigar making” for American smokers. Four vitolas feature three large ring gauges and a Lancero Extra, each blended to suit the size. I paid about $12 for the Toro Extra (6.5 x 56). Made by the Plasencias in Nicaragua and distributed by Quesada, it’s a tasty, medium-strength Nicaraguan puro with wood, earth, spice, and a hint of sweetness. One complaint: Regius’ poor website. There are few to no specifics about the cigars, and the retailer page is woeful, failing to even include the Chicago shop where this line debuted. I had to rely on a Cigar Aficionado interview with the CEO.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: Regius Cigars


Tip: Six Ways to Enjoy Cigars More in 2016

3 Feb 2016

Version 2

We all know about beginning-of-the-year resolutions. Lose weight, exercise, get more sleep… And we all know how most of them end up. Broken. (Statistically, by now, over a third of resolutions are already broken.)

But cigar resolutions are different. They can be easy to keep because they increase your enjoyment. Here are a few suggestions for 2016:

Take better care of your cutters and lighters. Neither of these tools requires all that much maintenance, but a little work will pay off. Keep your cutter clean. A blast of canned air will push out tiny bits of tobacco that can jam the mechanism and dull the blades. And while you have the compressed air handy, shoot a little in your lighter to eliminate debris and keep the butane flowing freely.

Venture outside your comfort zone. Try something from a manufacturer you never smoke, pick up a cigar with a different wrapper or blend, spring for an ultra-premium when it’s time to celebrate, or dig into the bargain basement once in a while. Sure, you will come up short on occasion, but you might find a new favorite. At the least, you’ll learn more about your likes and dislikes.

Clean up. Dump the ashtrays when you’ve finished smoking. Without fail. No one—and I mean no one—likes the sour, nasty smell of old ashes and butts.

Check out some oldies. New doesn’t always mean better. There is a reason some smokes have been around for years and years. People like them and buy them regularly. It’s also nice to know that a cigar you enjoy will always be available.

Introduce someone to the joys of cigars. We’ve all got friends who have never tried a premium cigar. Can they really turn down an invitation to watch a game, enjoy a drink, or just chew the fat at your local shop or in your backyard?

Enjoy. Whatever you find best about cigars, do a little more of it this year.

You likely can come up with more resolutions of your own. No matter what you decide, here’s to the best cigar-smoking year ever!

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: La Flor Dominicana La Nox Toro

23 Jan 2016

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief take on a single cigar.

With a multi-national combination of tobaccos—a dark Brazilian maduro wrapper, Mexican San Andrés binder, and Dominican filler—La Nox is a strong, satisfying smoke. The Toro (6.5 x 52) is ideal for the cigar to develop along the way. For instance, it begins with a combination of spice and earth and maintains a rich, spicy finish for a third or so. Then sweetness mixes in, toning down the finish and allowing other flavors to come to the fore. Tony Gomez, son of La Flor Dominicana’s founders, has certainly created a fine limited cigar, well worth its $11 price tag.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys


Tip: How to Take Care of Your Butane Lighter

20 Jan 2016

Did Santa leave you a new lighter under the tree? A butane-burning beauty that will make you feel like a true connoisseur when you light up your prized cigars?

Congratulations. Now it’s up to you to treat it right.

We’ve all read and heard sad tales of expensive lighters that too soon ended up as non-functional paperweights. The good news is that these days lighters seem to perform much better than they did not so long ago.

You can increase the likelihood that your new lighter will age into a reliable, trusted old friend through the years by following a few simple tips.

Read the instructions. Yes, I know this runs counter to just about everyone’s instincts. But spending a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the lighter’s ins-and-outs will pay off in the long run. After all, do you really want to set your hair on fire because you turned the flame adjustment the wrong way?

Use top-grade, multi-refined butane. It is expensive, but worth it in the long run. Butane lighters have tiny openings and the smallest bits can create clogs. Butane that has been refined multiple times means cleaner fuel.

Pay attention to the fill indicator. Don’t increase pressure by trying to squeeze in more fuel than the lighter is designed to hold. It might not cause damage, but why take the chance?

Bleed before refilling. Usually this is accomplished by pressing the fill valve and allowing the remaining butane to escape, but be sure to follow your manufacturer’s directions. Again, ignoring this might not create a problem, but investing a few seconds can’s hurt.

Compressed air is a great tool. A quick blast from the can periodically will keep the lighting mechanism clean and reduce the possibility of a clog.

Finally, enjoy your lighter. And if Santa missed you this year, you can always buy yourself the gift you want.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: La Aurora Preferidos 1903 Edition Diamond

16 Jan 2016

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief take on a single cigar.


Encased in the perfecto-style tube that distinguishes this high-end line, the Diamond smokes as good as it looks. A dark Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, a Dominican maduro binder, and Dominican filler combine for a rich, thick, tasty smoke with a pearl-white ash. The Diamond, often called “Black” after the tube color, is fairly small (5 x 54). The only real negative is the hefty price, which runs about $18-$20 individually, though I’ve seen it as low as about $12.50 when purchased by the box of eight. Worth the money, especially as a celebratory stick.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys


Commentary: Checking the Year-End Cigar Lists

11 Jan 2016

For one cigar company, the biggest gift of the year doesn’t come under the Christmas tree but at the top of Cigar Aficionado’s annual Top 25. This year, the legendary García family scored the win with their My Father Le Bijou 1922 Box-Pressed Torpedo.

Interestingly, My Father also took the top spot on Cigar Snob’s list, but it was the El Centurion H-2K-CT Toro that landed there. Cigar Journal’s number one choice was the Eiroa Classic Prensado, which did not appear on the other two lists.

As sure as winter brings cold weather, year’s end brings a seemingly endless array of rankings of cigars from magazines, blogs, and podcasts. Smokers argue about their value and validity, but you can’t deny the lists can make a difference in sales., by the way, doesn’t do a best-of list. Even with three regular smokers, we know it’s possible to evaluate only so many cigars, so we opt to present, without ranking, what we found to be the best we had during the year, and those that came very close.

Unquestionably, the most discussion of lists centers on the industry’s 800-pound gorilla, Cigar Aficionado. Love it, hate it, follow it, or ignore it, there’s no denying that a top rating by the slick publication moves the market like no other. Just ask Alec Bradley or Oliva. This year, perhaps CA’s most controversial topic of conversation was choosing General’s CAO Flathead V660 Carb at the number three spot.

I spent some time going through a number of the lists, especially those from CA, Snob, and Journal, as well as looking at some past rankings.

The first thing that jumped out at me was CA’s 2013 list. There at number nineteen was that same My Father Le Bijou 1922 Box-Pressed Torpedo that was tops this time. Last year, the highest a Pepín/My Father-branded smoke made it was seventeen. Of course, the My Father crew works with numerous brand owners, such as Tatuaje and Ashton, which often rank highly, and García’s Flor de las Antillas Toro was the top pick of 2012.

A noticeable oddity: Bringing up the rear of both CA and Journal’s Top 25 lists was the same boutique cigar: Sublimes Robusto Extra. Almost as close were the magazines’ rankings for La Boheme Pittore. Journal put it at eleven, CA one notch lower.

One of the most anticipated cigars of 2015—Steve Saka’s Sobremesa—didn’t place on any of the three lists. Another hot debut smoke, El Güegüense, from Saka’s fellow former Drew Estate colleague Nick Melillo, was only on Snob’s list, at twelve.

On the other hand, the blog Blind Man’s Puff had El Güegüense first and Sobremesa second. And Stogie Review’s Ben Lee rated them fourth (Sobremesa) and third (El Güegüense).

But just to show how much cigar preferences are a matter of personal taste, Lee’s top smoke was the Avo Syncro Nicaragua Toro. That same smoke was sixteen on CA’s list and didn’t show at all on the Snob or Journal selections.

Padrón, the brand cited often by many tobacconists as their best seller, had a cigar on each of the three magazine lists. Again, though, the ratings illustrate the variations in taste. CA rated the Padrón Family Reserve 50 Years Natural at five, Journal put the Maduro version at two, and Snob went for the Padrón Damaso No. 8 at fifteen.

Whatever your feelings about year-end lists, they are invariably a good place to start when you’re looking for new smokes. At the least, you know someone thought they were good.

George E

photo credit: N/A